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Heimaey of Iceland. An Icelandic tale of fire, flows, and Vestmann ingenuity T. Saylor IV. The Basics. 6 km off the mainland Last erupted January 23, 1973 – Eldfell (Mountain of Fire) Eruption ended late February of the same year

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heimaey of iceland

Heimaey of Iceland

An Icelandic tale of fire, flows, and Vestmann ingenuity

T. Saylor IV

the basics
The Basics
  • 6 km off the mainland
  • Last erupted January 23, 1973 – Eldfell (Mountain of Fire)
  • Eruption ended late February of the same year
  • Island was originally fueled by Submarine volcanism and created by Helgafell
  • Fishing City
  • Population of ~ 4,100 (2011)

Fig 1A

vestmannaeyjar
Vestmannaeyjar
  • Along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
  • Youngest volcanic system in the Eastern zone of Icelandic volcanism (Subaerial vents of Holocene age)
  • Named after original Irish slave settlers
  • Vestmenn (West men), Aeyjar (Islands)
  • Most Famous Island, Heimaey
  • Also home to Surtsey (20 km to the SW)

Fig 2A

Fig 2B

early history
Early History
  • Iceland first settled by the Norse Gaells (Ostmann, or East men) who brought Irish slaves in 874 (recognized as first settlers)
  • Hjörleifur, murdered by these slaves in his first year
  • Ingolfur (3A), Hjörleifur’s blood brother tracked them down to Heimaey, and enacted revenge
  • Later, in 1627, the islands were captured by Barbary Pirates from Algiers
  • Gained modern fame through Surtseys eruption in 1963(3B)

Fig 3A

Fig 3B

icelands v olcanic history
IcelandsVolcanic History
  • ~ 125 volcanic eruptions documented since 874 A.D. (USGS, 1973)
  • 14 offshore eruptions, centered mainly off of the Reykjanes Ridge (USGS, 1973

Fig 4A

eldfell
Eldfell
  • 1:55 AM January 23, 1973, 10 years after Surtsey
  • A 2 km long fissure opened in the ground in what was originally a peaceful field
  • A vent centralized to the NE and Eldfell was born

Fig 4A

Fig 4B

the fissure cone
The Fissure/Cone
  • Dormant for approximately 5,000 years
  • 20 million cubic meters of tephra ejected
  • Built the cone in 2 days
  • Eventually became 183m tall (February of 1973)

Fig 7B

Fig 7A

slide9
Lava!
  • 230 million cubic meters of lava
  • Alkali basalt (Murgearite to Hawaiite)
  • Flow rate of 3-9 meters a day, moving towards the town and harbor, so low effusion rate
  • Submarine volcanism (Surtseyan), later moved to Hawaaiin
  • Initial Eruptive rate:100 m3/sec
  • Seawater to the rescue!

Fig 8A

slide10

Fig 9A

Simmer down now!

  • Large scale cooling effort
  • Pumping equipment borrowed from the U.S.
  • 1.5 billion gallons of water
  • 30 kmof pipe
  • 43 pumps
  • Began in early July, 1973
  • Used bulldozers to move tephra over the flows in order to lay pipe

Fig 9B

more on cooling
More on cooling
  • Workers laying pipes over actively moving flows (10A)
  • No casualties during this effort
  • A few cases of minor burns
  • The pipe supports quickly burned, but the pipes themselves were still cool due to the seawater moving through them that they survived. These pipes can still be seen today.
  • Mostly inhabitants who volunteered to stay and help fight the flames as well as a team of Icelandic scientists and engineers (USGS, 1973)
  • Most ambitious attempt by man to control a volcanic event

Fig 10A

after the eruption
After the Eruption
  • ~350 buildings burnt to the ground
  • 70 homes nearly completely buried in tephra
  • ~ 15 million cubic meters of tephra needed to be removed from the town
  • Most of the towns original inhabitants returned for the cleanup efforts.

Fig 11A

geothermal power
Geothermal power
  • Heat was extracted from the slowly cooling lava flows; Fig 12A shows latent subthermal heat after the 1973 eruption
  • Used as a heating system for the town of Vestmannaeyjar
  • System emplaced in 1979 and operated for ten years until the flows cooled.

Fig 12A

geothermal system schematic
Geothermal System Schematic
  • Fig 13A; a USGS schematic for the geothermal heating system used in Heimaey, Iceland.
heimaey today
Heimaey Today

Fig 14B

  • Approximately 4,100 inhabitants (2011)
  • Still Icelands most important fishing harbor
  • For a sweet panorama showing the town today as well as Helgafell and Eldfell, follow this link: http://www.vestmannaeyjar.pano3d.eu/
  • Þjóðhátíð, a festival celebrating Icelands independence from Denmark is now the main attraction Heimaey offers; 24 hours of fun and beer!
  • Also home to Puffins! (Fig 14B)

Fig 14A

heimaey hazard map
Heimaey Hazard Map
  • Lava and pyroclastics Hazard Map
  • Proximal hazard
  • Medial Hazard
  • Distal Hazard
  • Hazard Maps created by Tom Saylor IV using GoogleEarth, USGS, known weather patterns and other documents for reference

Fig 15A

hazard map cont
Hazard Map Cont.
  • Tephra and Ejecta Hazard Map
  • Proximal hazard
  • Medial Hazard
  • Distal Hazard
  • Hazard Maps created by Tom Saylor IV using GoogleEarth, USGS, known weather patterns and other documents for reference

Fig 16A

a note on the previous hazard map
A note on the previous Hazard Map
  • During the 1973 eruption, prevailing winds blew tephra to the North East rather than the South West.
  • The dominant wind pattern for Heimaey is a South Westerly wind, but depending on time of year as well as other weather conditions this can change (Weather Underground, 2012).
  • Fig 17A (USGS,1973) shows the plume rising from Heimaey during the 1973 eruption.

Fig 17A

volcanic mostly videos
Volcanic (mostly) Videos
  • Follow this link for a video of the 1973 eruption and evacuation efforts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX9e9ei6v3s
  • Follow this link for an educational video on the 1963 Surtsey eruption and the 1973 eruption of Eldfell:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sRw_e5RA34
  • For nearly 30 minutes of uninterrupted Puffin action, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVrRJvZdZHg
image references
Image References
  • 1A : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 2A : Gill, Victoria. "Could Another Icelandic Volcano Erupt Soon?" BBC News. BBC, 05 Oct. 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8668604.stm>.
  • 2B : Google Earth Screen Capture
  • 3A: ÓVÁ. "IngólfurArnarson." Flickr. Yahoo!, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/2odinn/5451743423/lightbox/>.
  • 3B : "Space Aliens Blamed For Electric Universe." Space Aliens Blamed For Electric Universe. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2007/arch07/071105spacealiens.htm>.
  • 4A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • 5A : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 5B : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 6A : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 7A : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 7B : "Iceland in Pictures." Icelandpictures.tumblr.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://icelandpictures.tumblr.com/post/17314265440/vestmannaeyjar>.
  • 8A : Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • 9A : http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/212_spring2005.web.dir/philip_fitzgerald/tecniques.htm
  • 9B : Volcano.und.nodak.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2012. <http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/europe_west_asia/heimaey/heimaey.html>.
  • 10A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • 11A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • 12A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • 13A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • 14A : http://drinks.seriouseats.com/images/2011/09/20110901iceland-500.jpg
  • 14B : Col, Ela. Puffin. 2012. Photograph. Heimaey, Iceland. Flickr, 20 June 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/elacol/7427598690/>.
  • 15A : Courtesy of Tom Saylor IV, 2012.
  • 16A : Courtesy of Tom Saylor IV, 2012.
  • 17A : "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
text references
Text References
  • Centrum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.centrum.is/~edda/heimaey1.html>.
  • Einarsson, T., 1974, The Heimaey eruption in words and pictures: Heimskringla, Reykjavik, 56 p.
  • "Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland." Man Against Volcano: Heimaey, Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
  • Morgan, A. V. "The Eldfell Eruption, Heimaey, Iceland: A 25-year Retrospective." Geoscience Canada 27.1 (2000): 11-18. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
  • <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/heimaey/>.
  • Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the World: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.
  • Williams, R.S., and Moore, J.G., 1983, Man against volcano: The eruption on Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication, 27 p